So Much Packaging – Is Recycling Really The Solution?

So Much Packaging – Is Recycling Really The Solution?

Update, November 30 2017:

The container deposit scheme launches on December 1. The Co-Op welcomes this long overdue initiative by the NSW government and we hope that it will keep a lot of plastic out of landfill and support environmental non-profits and local groups. We are disappointed though with how it has been actioned as Mike Baird bowed to the manufacturers like Coca-Cola and others. This deposit scheme is mostly for collecting ‘away from home’ bottles and containers, and as such acts as a litter measure, rather than a plastic and waste reduction measure. This of course is better than nothing, but it also means that a serious container deposit legislation with Extended Producer Responsibility, i.e. the industry taking responsibility and ownership for the packaging they produce will not happen for a long time.

Some containers are excluded like milk cartons and wine or spirit bottles. At the moment there are only a few drop-off points along the Northern Beaches, two of them in Manly. Reverse vending machines are soon to be launched. Head over to the EPA website to find out about locations and learn more about the new deposit scheme: http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/recycling-and-reuse/return-and-earn

We still believe it is best to avoid plastic bottles and other packaging as much as possible. Shopping plastic free and working towards a zero waste lifestyle is the way to go.

by Chloe Brant

It’s a war on waste out there and at Manly Food Co-Operative we’re focused on providing you with solutions to refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle.

Waste Avoider and one of the Co-op’s founders, Keelah Lam, is passionate about avoiding waste altogether and has a strong incentive to help the community move towards zero waste!

“The best way (to refuse, reduce and reuse) is to avoid buying things in disposable packaging. Always look for alternatives, for example buy unsliced bread, slice it at home and store it in your own reusable container. Or buy products you know can go back into the earth.”

Here at the Co-Op we believe becoming waste-free is a journey. It might seem overwhelming at first, but once you start you can’t stop. Refusing, reducing and reusing are important factors on the road towards sustainable living.

“The Co-Op was started as a result of the waste crisis and the Earthworks course over 20 years ago. Once we are aware that waste-free shopping at Manly Food Co-Op is possible, with any luck, it’s the seed to re-thinking our lifestyle, re-inventing our systems to avoid waste in everything we do,” Keelah says.

Recycling should always be the last option, although Planet Ark celebrates National Recycling Week once a year. Just because something is recyclable does not mean that it is any better. plastic garbage on a beach

Take plastic as an example, it is choking our planet: “Of the 8.3bn tonnes produced between the 1950s and 2015, four-fifths lies in landfill or in our natural environment.”* And the worst is that it degrades into tiny particles called micro-plastics that are now even found in tap water. Consuming plastic can’t be healthy, right? So the best thing is still to avoid it altogether. But if you can’t, please ensure that it goes into the correct bin.

With so many do’s and don’ts on how to recycle glass, metal, plastics, cardboard and electronics it can all become quite confusing of what goes where. Here are some helpful guidelines.

Soft Plastics

These guys are recycling plants’ biggest problem. The malleable plastic can get caught in the recycling machinery and ends up just being discarded. Things like plastic bags, plastic bread bags and biscuit packets can all be recycled through the REDcycle program which is a plastic disposing solution with bins set up all around Australia. Check out where your closest REDcycle bin is here.

green recycling signRecycling on the Northern Beaches

The Northern Beaches Council have a strong recycling approach for our local community. One thing they are passionate about is choosing to refuse, reduce and reuse.

  • Use re-usable coffee cups, water bottles and shopping bags
  • Put a ‘no junk mail’ sticker on your letterbox
  • Optout of getting paper copies of the Yellow and White Pages

FUN FACT: Recycling one tonne of plastic saves enough energy to run a refrigerator for one month! But even better, by shopping at the Co-op you can avoid plastic altogether!  

Our local council also has a strong position on disposing of waste responsibly with bi-annual bulky goods clean-ups, providing information of eWaste drop-off locations and providing clearly coloured bins for different types of materials as follows.

  • Yellow bins are for mixed container recycling including unbroken glass, plastic, metal and carton containers
  • Blue bins are for clean paper and cardboard including boxes and magazines
  • Green bins are for vegetation waste like leaves, grass cuttings and mulch
  • Red or dark green bins are for general garbage

Reusable containers and jarsAlthough as Keelah shares, recycling is not the solution. “Find natural alternatives, find long life solutions, avoid products invented to simply throw away. It’s fine to make a list and tick things off as we go, realising we can really make a difference, and share our progress and zero waste methods with family and friends.”

By shopping at the Manly Food Co-Op, you are choosing to be more conscious of waste and to learn how to eventually avoid waste altogether.

You’ll find waste-free alternatives, so different to shopping at the big supermarkets. Come in and chat to one of our friendly staff and volunteers for more information on how to refuse, reduce, reuse and, if nothing helps, recycle.

 

About the Author Chloe Brant: An avid ocean lover and eco blogger, Chloe works in broadcast communications and felt she needed to share the message of living a more sustainable life. The Manly Food Co-Op was the perfect fit to share their local and healthy produce and waste-free thinking with the wider community. 

“I volunteer writing content for the Co-Op to share my love for local produce and to learn all I can from like-minded volunteers and community members about living a sustainable life for a happy planet :)”

 

*Sources:

Manly Food Co-Operative
Manly Food Co-Op logo